Nov 9, 2012
Reaction score
View attachment 320730

Normally I'm a Liverpool fan. I've played countless LFC saves over and over, building and rebuilding the team many ways. But this time around, I wanted something a little different.

After watching last weekends LFC v Southampton game and seeing the potential their squad has, I decided to make my next save about them.

In this game I'll be playing with a different system and something I've never used before, inspired by the 6-2-2-0 Counter Hypothesis thread. The formation and play style will be my own creation though, using ideas and tips from that discussion.

So this story is kind of dual natured. It's about Southampton, but also about this new tactic I'm trying to create.

So all that being said, on to the show:

Week 1 (Staff and Deadwood):

As with most saves, on day one I like to rearrange the club I take over completely. Out goes any and all staff to mutual termination that don't meet a certain standard. Unfortunately, my first roadblock with Southampton is I can't get in some of the staff I want due to the previously manager's new hires.

I'm stuck with Jesus Perez as my assistant coach, as well as the previous regimes GK coach and tactics coach. I almost completely replace everyone else, except the u18 and Reserves coaches, as well as the DoF and the head of youth development.

I also choose to keep the physio tandem of Mo and Emma Gimpel... because I think they are married... and how heartless would it be to fire both the husband and the wife?... What if they have pixel children to support?... So despite being rubbish, they'll stay on my staff.

Final staff hirings/coaching categories:

The next thing I like to do in a new save is get rid of all my deadwood players and get an idea what my budget will be for the season. What's nice about Southampton is they start with a decent wage and transfer budget for a small team, but also have a lot of deadwood to sell (and the board starts with 80% transfer revenue, but will allow you to increase to 100% if you ask).

Immediately I put everyone that is rated three stars or below on the transfer list (even young reserve players), and use the new 'unwanted list' feature to have my DoF sell the players. While i'd like to get value for them, most of the players are priced to move as I want not only the transfer revenue, but also the salary off the books.

Next I start slashing the size of the u18 team. In the past, Southampton has been known for their youth development... however, 80% of the u18 team are rated 1 star or below by the coaching staff. I usually release on a free anyone without even a remote chance of making the team. This usually leaves me with only a handfull of u18 players on the books and a weakened u18 team for the u18 league... but I'm ok with that. I usually try to bring in a couple of 16-17 year olds each transfer window for development.

Once the deadwood is gone, it's time to start looking at new players. From the original Southampton first team I inherited, this is who is left:


After selling everyone and asking for a wage budget increase, I had over 20m to bring in new players.

The formation I developed (which I'll talk about in a minute) is a 3-7-0 with 3 DM's. Because Southampton's defense is probably one of their weak spots, bringing in a few quality CBs was my number one priority, followed by bringing in a good anchor man for my defensive midfield.

For CBs my top three targets were Danny Batth, Stefan Strandberg, and Borja (Real Sport SAD 18 year old). I like young, tall CBs that can either pass the ball or have pace. On the plus side, all three are relatively cheap too and can be had for less than 3m.

Unfortunately, Batth signed a new contract with Wolves before I could sign him, but I did land Borja (2.3m) and Strandberg (1.2m).



The next most important area for me was some quality DM's. Southampton start with quality players that can fit in to the DM spot, but they are more DLP's than they are hardmen holding midfielders that can break up play, which is what my system needs.

I first eyed Maxime Gonalons who was on the transfer list. I was surprised he was willing to sign for Southampton, and at 6.5m he would be a pricey addition, but I could justify spending it.

Later on in my first month I was also made aware that Victor Wanyama would be interested in signing for Southampton. Capturing Wanyama would truly be a coup for the club, and after some wheeling and dealing, we secured him for 10m (half paid out over 48 months) + a player exchange of Jason Puncheon. Surprisingly, Wanyama was willing to take a reasonable salary as well.



Those were the biggest transfers in, with the rest being quality youngsters for either the bench or the u18 team.

Here is a complete list of my transfers by the end of the 1st month:


As a side note, I also like signing players with a high determination attribute that can tutor. Because of this, I brought in Arthur Boka on loan from Stuttgart to cover or start on the left side (DL/WBL/ML) as well as tutor Nathaniel Clyne.

The system 3-7-0:

So as I mentioned before, i was inspired by the 6-2-2-0 Counter hypothesis thread by Shyftyy. I wanted to create a strikerless counter formation that would be strong defensively, and quick and direct on the break. This is completely opposite to the kind of formations I'm used to playing with, having played a lot of Liverpool saves and focusing on possession, overlapping width, and passing football.

My formation and current starting XI for pre-season friendlies looks like this:


Here are the sliders (although it's a work in progress)


So as you can see, the formation is a little unorthodox... but Southamptons players fit in quite nicely. Lambert surprisingly makes a decent AMC, although his pace is really bad for a counter-attacking style of play. In my first two friendlies the defence has been fantastic, holding the opposition to zero shots. But the lack of pace upfront is definitely noticable and something I may have to fix later on in the season.

Also, I'm retraining Nathaniel Clyne (one of Southampton's best and brightest young talents) to play as a right winger. I'm not using fullbacks, but he's too good to exclude from the team. The same goes for Luke Shaw, who I will also try to develop as a defensive winger.

As a back up, I'm also working on a 5-5-0 with wingbacks and wingers as a backup tactic for when we need a little width... but it's a long way off from being presentable.

In the next post I'll talk about friendlies, results, formation tweaks, and the league!

March on you Saints.
Last edited:
Very well written and looking forward to seeing more.
Nice signings there mate, why did you not offer for Svennson? he is quality...

if you are on the lookout for new players, may I suggest taking a gander at this thread if you have not already


Good luck bud

Thanks Raikan and Shyftyy.

I looked at Svennson this season, and I've signed him before in other saves (although he didn't get much play).

He was on my shortlist, and it was a toss up between him and Cirigliano from River. Ultimately, I felt that Schneiderlin, Cork, or even James Ward-Prowse could do the job of a DLP/DM in my formation.

I'm learning that with the formation and style I want to play, my weakest positions are pace up front, and a high crossing attribute on the wings. Once those are addressed next time I get some funds, I'll be looking at the DLP position.
Friendlies and Formation tweaks

View attachment 321117

Update 1:

Four friendlies down, and the season is about to kick off.

Watching the games in fullI was able to learn a lot about the tactic I've put together. My first three friendlies were against Eastleigh, Aberystwyth, and Newtown.

Against weaker teams like this I was amazed to find my possession in the 60-70% range considering possession was not my intention. In those first three games the team chalked up an impressive 12 goals, while conceding 2 (one of which was an O.G. from a backpass to Boruc... where Boruc literally just stood there and watched it roll past him and in to goal... needless to say, I've decided to not renew his one year contract)

So against weaker teams, this tactic is dominant (like i imagine most tactics would be).

But despite the softballs, it was good to see how the tactic could potentially move. The defense and midfield were fantastic at breaking up the opponents attacking movement.

The anchorman, who I rotated between Wanyama or Gonalons, sat in front of the defensive line perfectly, and did not go too far forward when in possession. As the rest of the team pushed up, he provided an always open backpass that recycles possession really nicely.

I'm currently tweaking the AMC roles, as both players came back in to the midfield while in possession too often for my liking. Ideally, I'd like one player to do that for link-up when the ball is moving through the midfield, but I'd like the other AMC to push the opponents D-line and make forward runs (kind of like a striker would... even though he's really an AM...). We'll see in the next couple of games if my tweaks get those results.

Also, there is some unexpected movement coming from the DMCL position, who quite regularly charges forward when we're in possession, running past the AMC and in to the box. I kind of like it actually, as he often ends up un-marked... now it's just a matter of getting him the ball and hoping his terrible finishing can get the job done.

On the counter attacking front, the team moves great despite having a low pace attribute overall. When we recover the ball, i'd say three out of five times players try to quickly break forward as a team and create a nice counter movement.

The only test we've had in preseason was our last game away against Brighton. They managed to score off a corner, and pull out six shots in the game (3 on target, 1 half chance). Despite this, 4 of the 6 shots were longshots (which I'm ok with). Brighton also managed more possession (51%), which is more in line with what I expect to see against Premiere league opposition (and not the 60-70% I was getting in earlier friendlies).

We won the game 2-1, off two Rickie Lambert goals. It should of been 3 goals, but we had one disallowed for a questionable offsides call. Standout players were Lambert of course (rated 8.8), and Wanyama who played mostly in the DMCL position and had a few quality longshots on goal (rated 8.1).

More Transfer News:
In the beginning of August I also brought in two new players to the club, deciding I needed a little more cover at CB and another quality attacking option.

In come Leandro Paredes (2.9m) and Jamaal Lascelles (4m, half paid over 48 months)



Paredes can turn in to an absolute beast, and at under 3m he is such a steal. I remember seeing Real Madrid go in for him in a previous save, so if nothing else he's a solid investment.

Lascelles is someone I've always wanted to develop, but never had the opportunity to. With his natural 17 influence, and decent stats for an 18 year old Englishman, I see him as potentially being a Jamie Carragher type of CB.

These last two signings pretty much leave the coffers nearly empty (sitting on about 700k), but I definitely think the team is good enough to grab a mid-table finish, which is all the board want us to do.

Coming up we've got the season opener against Newcastle, and a relatively easy first couple of weeks after that. We drew Burnley in the League Cup, which could of been a better a draw for us, but I think we can take them.

Here's the match list:


In other news around the league, a lot of big transfers... Fellaini to Man City (as usual), Sandro to Man U, Ben Arfa and Kaka to City, Cleverly and Dyer to Tottenham, Subotic to Arsenal... and other craziness.

Here are some of the top transfers so far in this window:


Despite all the big spenders, I honestly think we have a chance to start the season off strong though... so stay tuned in.

March on you Saints.
Last edited:
View attachment 322017

Update 3:

The season is on, and we've started strong.

Three games in, home to Newcastle, away to the Villains, and away to Burnley in the league cup... and wins in all three.

Tactic tweaks:

Following our victory against Newcastle, I made a few tweaks to the tactic trying to get some better attacking movement out of my AMCs. I'm finding that Rickie Lamberts PPM 'comes deep to collect ball' causes him to get out of scoring position and play a lot more negatively than I would like to see from an AMC in this formation. Because he's too old to unlearn it (at least that's what my coaching staff says, we're trying anyways), I've had to tweak his role to be as offensive as an AMC can be (dropping his closing down, removing his creative freedom/roaming, and bumping his attacking mentality all the way up. I may try setting him to man mark a defender to keep him in an attacking position if those tweaks don't work.

I'm really happy with the way the wingers are playing. They've provided quite a bit of attacking width and have fired some nice crosses in to the box. Lallana lacks the attributes of a true winger and isn't contributing as much as Boka... I may try moving Lallana in to Lamberts AMC role (and open up the RW slot for Clyne) if I can't the kind of movement and performance out of Lambert I want.

The tactic is close to where I want it to be... The DM positions are pretty sound, the defense is fantastic, and my wingers are making due despite the players not being 100% suited for the position.

Match Analysis:


Our first game against Newcastle was fantastic, and set the tone for our other matches. Right away I got to see the defensive quality of the formation. I was worried that Newcastle's width and pace on the wings would be a problem, but my wingers and DMCL/DMCR covered them well, even when Newcastle used position swapping between Jonas and Obertan to through off our OI's.

Papiss Cisse was tight marked and closed down to the point of ineffectiveness and was subbed in the 73rd minute. Newcastle had all of one shot in the first half, and the remainder of their five total shots came in the last 20 minutes. Newcastle did hold most of the possession (57%), but we still managed almost three times as many shots as they did... most of which came off of fast counter breaks and balls through, which is how I want the team to play.

Our goals came from a corner in which we scrambled to recover the ball and score after it was knocked down, and a Maxime Gonalons forward run in which he received a through ball, rounded the keeper, and scored in a moment of class. Player of the match was Vegard Forren who scored the first goal, and had a half chance at another. Defensively he made 8 interceptions and won 10 of his 11 headers.

Here are the full stats:


Our second game was Aston Villa away. Again, our defense was stalwart. Villa managed 8 shots on 52% possession, but only one was on target and none were scoring chances, with most of their shots being long and coming from outside the box.


The image above shows the shot position of Aston Villa, with 5 of 8 being long and only one really requiring a save from the GK.

Our goal came from Paredes, who got the start over Gaston Ramirez due to fitness... and it proved to be the right decision. His goal came off a through ball from Lambert (where Lambert was dropping back to collect and create as a result of his PPM... so i guess it's not all bad).

I definitely think Aston Villa's 4-4-2 diamond formation worked against them as many of their passes through the middle were intercepted or off target due to the congestion of the 3-7-0.

Here are the full match stats:


Our league cup game was truly a defensive masterpiece.

The bookies viewed the game as a draw, but we managed to be pretty dominant, allowing only one off target shot the entire game but getting 6 on target shots and 2 half chances (+1 woodwork) ourselves, resulting in a 1-0 win.

I've noticed a trend in our last three games with Strandberg misplacing a lot of his passes bringing the team and the defenses pass % down. Despite that though, Strandberg was named player of the match after making 17 interceptions, winning 12/13 headers, 4/4 tackles.

Our goal came from loanee Arthur Boka who cut inside and netted a through ball by Gaston Ramirez. It was really nice movement off the ball, and I was excited to see a defensive winger get in to the box and provide a target.

Full match stats:


Our next game is against Stoke at home, and I have a feeling this may be our biggest challenge yet. I expect Stoke will line up defensively, which may prove to be a tough nut to crack. I may have to be happy with a nill-nill draw... but we'll see.

March on you Saints.
Last edited:
I missed this update but I am thrilled that the tactic is working so well for you. Keep em coming, Zenmuse! :)